The activities for today included a visit to one of the most important cooperatives in the county followed by a trip to a macaw rescue rehabilitation center. We were scheduled to leave the hotel at 9:15 am so we could meet with the person in charge of the tour of Dos Pinos Milk Cooperative, which means “two pines trees” in Spanish. The tour began with a brief introduction of Dos Pinos which was founded in 1947. The company’s main business was producing concentrated animal food and after 4 years of business they started producing dairy products. Currently, they sell 341 products including dairy and non-dairy and is the number 1 brand in Costa Rica and a well-known brand in Central America.
After the introduction we were taken to see their distribution channels which were divided by the type of product and were placed into fully capacitated trucks in order to keep the product from going bad. Most of the trucks have the ability to select the degree of temperature appropriate for different products.
Dos Pinos’ current general manager is Jorge Paton who has been in office for 20 years. This is important for the company because allows them to show continuity in their products and consistent business practices. In his term, Dos Pinos moved their plant from San Jose to Collos de Alajuela and allowed them to grow, drastically penetrating international markets. Currently, they employ 3500 employees and all of them receive benefits such as medical assistance. Also, Dos Pinos gives out scholarships for workers to enhance their knowledge in their fields.
Dos Pinos, besides being the biggest cooperative in Central America, is extremely conscious with social and environmental issues. They invested in a recycling plant of tetra packs which are most of the packages from their products. With the recycled materials, Dos Pinos hires prisoners to build school desks, reducing their sentence after every 2 work days, and when finished, Dos Pinos give them to local schools.
Dos Pinos is conscious with their milk producers. They provide them advantages that allow them to have a good business. Each day Dos Pinos collects 1,000,000 liters of milk and it takes them 36 hours to start selling the milk in stores. Our tour included a visit inside the facilities of the company; we were able to see the pasteurization process as well as the packaging process of all their products. After all the incredible explanation of Dos Pinos, the moment that everybody was waiting finally came; they gave us ice cream.
For the evening tour, we visited a macaw rehabilitation center. We were pleased to be greeted by a herd of dogs as opposed to macaws- that was a shocker. However, guided by the dogs, we were taken to the cages where the beautiful macaws lived. The ARA project is a non-profit organization that is fully devoted to helping mistreated macaws. Jenny, who is the person in charge, gave us a detailed explanation of her duties. She really showed us how passionate she is with macaws by responding to all of our questions without hesitating. At some point, the macaws started pleading for food creating such a loud environment that Jenny told us to move so we can hear her (and of course the 18 dogs followed us). Currently, there are 108 macaws in the center, and Jenny puts 100% of her time to them, without pay, and unfortunately they have been told to evacuate the premises. SO, in order to help the ARA project, please find some time to like their Facebook page and help them or log into www.thearaproject.org.
Now we are off to our farewell dinner and everybody is showing a bittersweet expression on everyone’s face. Even though we are all excited to go back home to our families we are sad to leave this wonderful place.